The City of Richardson's City Council elections are over (except for the run-offs). The Richardson ISD school board elections are over (except for the run-offs). The RISD bond approval elections are over. Some of the elections were over early in the evening. Some dragged late into the night. Some went as expected. Some offered surprises. After the jump, my verbose reactions to all of them.
City of Richardson, City Council Place 4: Joe Corcoran
Joe Corcoran won easily, 55%-45%. Joe was easily the most impressive candidate in my recent memory. He's intelligent, hard-working, with a volunteer spirit and experience that would be a great addition to the City Council. He also put in the effort in the campaign needed to win, pounding the pavement himself and drawing a large team to help. Just one story: on election day I was taking a walk in my neighborhood when I saw a car stop at my neighbor's house. The car had "Vote for Joe" signs sticking out of the windows. A young woman got out and walked to my neighbor's door. She was going after one single delinquent vote. He also attracted the financial resources needed to get his story in mail boxes across the city, but it's the narrow targeting of individual voters that wins elections. That and, of course, having a great candidate to tell the voters about.
But I'm burying the lede here. The most gob-smacking fact about this election is that Joe Corcoran beat an incumbent City Council member. That hasn't happened since 2009. Moreover, the incumbent he beat received the endorsement of the Richardson Coalition PAC. That PAC had not lost an election since it began actively raising and spending money to influence the results of elections in 2009. Some people noticed that five of the seven City Council races drew only one candidate and wondered why more people don't run for City Council. A common answer is that it's futile to run against the PAC. Without that checkmark by your name in the PAC's infamous "voter's guide", people feel a candidate just can't win. Well, Joe Corcoran just proved that old political truism wrong. A well-qualified, strong candidate can win without the PAC's backing. It helped that the establishment backed a candidate with a penchant for own goals, but still. Consider that the PAC's own goal itself.
City of Richardson, City Council Place 6: Run-off
Arefin Shamsul finished first with 40% of the vote. I can't be everywhere and see everything, but in my personal observation, Shamsul ran a more visible campaign than Frederick and Burdette. He had more mailers. He had more yard signs. He had more of a social media presence. To be accurate I have to note that one candidate in another race disappeared altogether from my own Facebook feed midway through the election campaign (perhaps he blocked me?), so my observations are not scientific.
Shamsul will face a run-off election against Marilyn Frederick, although Frederick's lead over Burdette is tenuous. By my unofficial count, only 49 votes separate the second and third place finishers, out of 8,780 total votes cast. People who went to bed after looking at just the Dallas County elections website to see who won, may have been confused in the morning when sources said Frederick qualified for the run-off. That's because Burdette is shown as leading by 190 votes in Dallas County, but if you check the Collin County vote, you'll see that Frederick is shown as leading there by 239 votes. So, unless I've gotten the math wrong, it'll be Arefin Shamsul against Marilyn Frederick in a run-off.
Arefin Shamsul is the kind of candidate you want winning a seat on City Council. He's a long-time Richardson resident. He has years of service on various City of Richardson boards and commissions — Zoning Board, Building and Standard Commission. He's gone through Leadership Richardson and the Citizens Police Academy so he knows the City. He's got a lot of community service to point to, including helping run food drives and a vaccination drive at his place of worship. He also owns a successful engineering business focusing on municipal infrastructure. In other words, he's the perfect candidate for Richardson. But a Burdette endorsement, either way, if he makes one, could be critical in the run-off.
Richardson ISD, District 1: Megan Timme
Megan Timme easily won election to the school board with 58% of the vote. She comes to the board with the strongest resume of any candidate in my recent memory. She's got the family connection, being the daughter of Jerry Bishop, a retired teacher, coach, principal, and assistant superintendent in RISD. She herself has been a teacher and principal at multiple RISD schools and is now the District 10 Regional Director of Administrative Services. I didn't endorse her, but I am pleased to see her win. She ought to be a good business manager on the school board.
Richardson ISD, At Large Place 7: Run-off
The vote in the at-large Place 7 race was split 7 ways, but the outcome was as expected. This wealth of candidates led to some good choices, and I'm glad to see the voters picked two great ones to face off in a run-off.
Chris Poteet led all candidates with 36% of the vote. He had the backing of some heavy hitters in the district, former trustees from RISD and DISD and sitting City Council members from Richardson and Dallas. He is a professional engineer focusing on public infrastructure projects. That's a critical skill to have in a school district starting important building projects. He also has a history of volunteer work in the school district and outside non-profits.
In the run-off, Poteet will face Amanda Clair, who finished second with 27% of the vote. She comes from a more traditional educational background. She was a teacher of English as a Second Language. She was a curriculum developer and has management experience running programs in 40 schools. That's a great background for school board. Now she is an academic director for a national education consultancy firm. She will have an uphill challenge overtaking Poteet in the run-off. It could depend on whether she can garner some endorsements from the other five candidates.
The RISD will be in good hands no matter who prevails in the run-off.
School Bonds: Infrastructure (Prop A) and Technology (Prop B): YES
As expected both bond proposals passed easily, gathering about 65% support. The opposition couldn't figure out how to attack them. With a big assist from the state legislature's edicted ballot language, they tried the "it's a tax increase" argument, but the fact is that the election wasn't about changing the tax rate. Most voters (or at least 65% of them) understood that. The tax rate is going to be the same no matter how the election turned out. So if your taxes are going up (and most people's are), it's because your property value is going up, not because the school district is raising the tax rate. The opponents fell back on complaining about the 2016 bond election ("but the MACs"), but most voters (or at least 65% of them) didn't care to refight that old battle. What was on the ballot this year was not MACs, but a new middle school to replace an overcrowded and outdated old one and a whole bunch of other needed construction to keep up with anticipated growing enrollments, notably to accept a growing pre-K program. In the end, the election wasn't close.